Ballantrae Smugglers Festival 


Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival 2016

Ballantrae’s SmugglersFestival is inspired by stories of smuggling in Ballantrae and the surrounding area in the late 1700 and early 1800s.  Now in its fourth year, this years Ballantrae Smugglers’ Festival took place during the period June to August. We wanted to move away from the idea that our Smugglers’ Festival had to be over a number of consecutive days in August.

A “Smugglers’ Road Trip” from Stranraer to Girvan in June with a commentary by social historian and author Frances Wilkins followed in the footsteps of the 18th and 19th century smugglers.

Also in June, the children of Ballantrae Primary School launched a book “Our Smuggling Stories” comprising stories, poems and illustrations for children. Copies are available, price £7.50, from or from 07920517700.

The story of smuggling in the Ballantrae and Girvan area was told in the Smugglers! exhibition in the McKechnie Institute in Girvan in June and July. Over 500 people visited the exhibition.

Details of four “Smuggling Trails”, piloted last year, are now available from the Visitor Information Point at Craigiemains Home and Garden Centre in Ballantrae with maps of the trails and the smuggling stories related to each one.

Over 50 people attended the Smugglers’ Supper and the owners and staff of the Kings Arms really got into the spirit of the festival and made everyone feel welcome with a traditional 4 course smugglers’ supper. The musical entertainment provided by Davie Hunter and “The Spuds” (Frankie and Gordon) was excellent.

Bad weather and the opening of the Olympics had an adverse effect on this year’s Strongman Challenge but undaunted we went ahead; the MacKinnons won the children’s event and the Irvings won the adult competition.

The Smugglers’ Chase involving 4 crews was organised by Troon Coastal Rowing Club. Firth of Clyde CRC won all of the races and the Trophy. The other two teams involved were Carrick and Girvan CRCs.

The Landing of the Contraband was undoubtedly the highlight of this year’s festival with an audience of around 300 and a lot of media attention. ITV filmed the tall ship La Malouine and her role in the festival and the 30 minute programme on smuggling in south west Scotland and how the story is kept alive by Ballantrae was broadcast on ITV Border Life on Monday 29 August. This was our most ambitious re-enactment yet with La Malouine anchoring in Ballantrae bay, small boats going out to her to unload sacks and casks of contraband, children and adults in 18th century costume bringing the contraband up from the beach and loading it onto horses and carts for transportation through the village to Craigiemains where the procession was ambushed by the Excisemen and Customs Officers. But the women of Ballantrae took the law into their own hands and overpowered the authorities and rescued the contraband!

All in all a very colourful and successful festival with some familiar events and some new ones, building on the successes of the past 3 years. You can see the video and pictures of this year’s festival (and previous festivals) on this website.

At this time of the year we always think “How can we top that next year?” But planning has already started so look out for the advance publicity on this website and come and join us!


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Ballantrae Smugglers Festival shared Andy McAlpine's post. ... See MoreSee Less

The costumes have arrived, the Minister and the Doctor have been been learning their lines, rehearsals have been completed, and "Smuggler" has been recorded by Freya, Jessica and Rosie. We're all looking forward to tonight. All we need now is the audience! We hope to see you tonight at the marquee at Ballantrae Harbour. We start prompt 7pm.... Adults £2 accompanied children FREE.

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Ballantrae Smugglers Festival shared a . ... See MoreSee Less

Many thanks to all the organisers of this event

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The Tall Ship La Malouine is coming to our Skiff Racing this afternoon. If you are around please come - we are here until just after 4pm ... See MoreSee Less

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